Of Juice and Thrips and Ceiling Wax
Soup and Cities, September 12
Soup and Cities
Was just downstairs scrounging through the fridge for lunch and came upon some leftover broccoli, and some leftover gravy. Ah, I thought, feeling daring and wild. Crazy, but how bad can it be? Put them both in a bowl to microwave. The gravy looked a little thick, so I added some water. Nuked it, and out it came. I looked at it, tasted: cream of broccoli soup. I had reinvented cream of broccoli soup. So much for daring.
Spent a nearly week in Chicago attending Worldcon. The train trip worked out just fine: both the Lady Poetesses From Hell and Amtrak survived. The food was better than I remember, but the size of the toilets seems to have shrunk. Seats were comfortable with plenty of leg room. The scenery was simply beautiful. The train runs from Minneapolis to Chicago by going down along the Mississippi, and crossing into Wisconsin via La Crosse, then on to Milwaukee and Chicago through lush green farmland and wetland. We lost count of the number of blue herons we saw.
We arrived on time, got a taxi to the hotel, and got settled. I hadn't been to Chicago in a long time. It's bigger and wider and cleaner than I remember. And hotter. The city has put huge planter boxes along the downtown streets and planted trees and shrubs all over the place. A vast improvement.
Next day, before the convention, we walked to the Art Institute. This was a mistake. It wasn't very far, but after a further 6 hours on our feet on marble floors, we realized what a mistake we had made. Our feet hurt for days afterwards.
On top of that, our hotel and the main con hotel were only a block from each other, but we walked back and forth and back and forth, and within the con hotel itself, we spent many miles trying to figure out where things were in the rabbit warren in the sub-ground floors where a lot of the meeting rooms and convention events were held. It took me two days to find the dealers room and the art show!
Then we stood at parties, of course, and we stood in line to wait for our turn on the elevators which would take us to the parties, and we walked upstairs a few floors and downstairs a few floors, and on and on. Even with good shoes, it was tough. We took taxis when we could (outside the hotel), and that worked out well. They were inexpensive with three or four people sharing the fare. Rode the EL once, when we couldn't get a cab back from Chinatown.
Then on the last full day, Doug and I had to go visit the tall ships down on the Old Navy Pier, and walked for about an hour before we admitted de feet weren't up to it. That afternoon, with most of the con over, Eleanor and Laurie and Rebecca and I went to the Shedd Aquarium for the afternoon, taking a taxi, stood in line for about 45 minutes to get in (through a huge inflated anaconda's mouthno fangs and walked our feet off till the place was about to close. We did sit for the dolphin show.
The Art Institute and the Aquarium were utter delights. We were dazed and dazzled. There was something new to see at every turn, Frank Lloyd Wright here, Monet there, Van Gogh there, Chagall over theresensory overload to the max. We had come originally to see the Pharaohs of the Sun exhibit, and just walked on and on from gallery to gallery. Did take a lunch break at the restaurant there. Extravagant, but fun. We were Ladies and we Lunched!!
The Aquarium had beautiful fish, but the architecture! Mercifully, they have not gotten rid of the stunningly beautiful architectural details of the place: octopus chandeliers, starfish, crabs, lobsters, fish, and scallops in the detailed plaster work, marble, door carvings, mosaics. I was glad we had to wait in line so long so we could notice the gorgeous details before we got the wonders of cichlids, jellyfish, sea horses, and the like.
Oh yes, the convention. Well, it was a good convention. Lots of old friends, met some new ones (some just born in the last year!), missed still others (many hugs to Don and Deb) while wading around in 6000 people. That alone could have kept us occupied. It was sometimes hard to tear ourselves away and see the rest of the convention. Some people I would see over and over again, and others only once or twice and never again (sorry Roger!) It was sometimes difficult to get consensus and meet for brunch and dinner expeditions, as well (sorry David and Kate!!)
Programming was a little dull, as was the art show, but there were plenty of both. There was a poetry panel of sorts, but no reading. A fine dealer's room. The newsletter people put out a spectacular 21 issues. Information, registration, security, ops, everyone (all volunteers) worked hard to make it a good Worldcon. We knew who won the Hugos almost as soon as the people who went to the ceremony!
There were very nice displays of Fannish history, fanzines, and Worldcon bidding art. Lots of famous authors running around looseTerry Prachett, Bob Silverberg, Suzy McKee Charnas, Pat Murphy, Candas Dorsey, Eleanor Arnason (Hugo nominee!!), tons more and the soon-to-be-famous, like Laurie, Lyda, and Rebecca, of course! (Laurie's book "Growing Wings" is out now. It's a wonderful YA novel and you should go out and buy it.)
I was so pleased when Toronto won the 2003 bid, even though it meant I didn't see much of Hope L, since she was working on it. It looks like there will be poetry programming at Toronto! Possibly Lady Poetesses From Hell, as well.
Parties were great. Many of them are put on by fans in cities bidding for future Worldcons, and some are fannish groups and special interest, such as the GLBT party.
The Japanese contingent is making a serious bid for Japan in 2007 and threw a wildly popular party. The Toronto parties were fabulous, Cancun was good, too, and at the Charlotte in 2004 party I tasted Charlotte barbecue, which is amazingly good. They don't do the sweet sauce routine, there's vinegar and red pepper in it, and apparently one eats it topped with coleslaw on a bun. I had a little, just to taste. They trucked it up in a refrigerated truck and served it hot! Impressive and very popular.
As far as I can tell, though, the Minneapolis in '73 (Ok, we lost long ago, but we're still having parties!) won the most accolades. Geri came up with a theme of Minneapolis On a Stick, with the take-off being the State Fair, of course. Her crew of volunteers slaved over it. A tiny midway was constructed with twinkling lights on one bathroom of the suite, while another had rows or roses in bottles as the horticultural exhibits. The Animal barns were on top of the TV, consisting of tiny plastic animals. Lots of silly paper hats were distributed, including the pig ears hats from the pig barns, State Assembly Building hats, and the infamous pickle hats. Refreshments were dutifully on sticks, when possible, there were State Fair cups and napkins, lots of strange candies were piled around, and there was even a butter sculpture area.
I provided refrigeration for Karen Schaffer by way of a Japan in 2007 fan while she determinedly sculpted little heads out of cubes of butter.( At the State Fair, one of the attractions is the sculpting, life sized, of the head of Princess Kay of the Milky Way out of 100% pure butter. Her sister attendants are also sculpted. One by one they sit in a refrigerated booth, wearing parkas and gloves while the sculptor takes their likenesses and the people in the sweltering Dairy Building look on in envy. They get to keep the butter at the end of the fair.)
I'm sure I am missing some of the other details, due to a judicious application of medicinal Dewars (my back hurt, big surprise, but many thanks, Jack!). But wow, what an effort!
The main problem with the parties was heat. MPLS in 73 brought electric fans. The air conditioning in the Hyatt was simply not up to the demand, so we roved around, deciding which parties were the coolest by judging on temperature alone. We had all made a pact to be in bed by 1 am at the latest and stuck to it, which is why I am alive and telling you all of this today. Even with 6-7 hours of sleep a night, it took me several full nights of sleep to recover.
We had a great time, all of us, and Chicago is a wonderful city. The hotel staff in both places were great. And if you ever have a dental emergency in Chicago, call Northwestern Memorial. They put my crown back on and only charged for the procedure, not the emergency visit.
Now if only they would do something about those hard sidewalks and carpet more of the museums!
Copyright © 2000 by Terry A. Garey.